Of Crays and Clusters: the Future of U.S. Supercomputing, January 27, 2005, 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., Avaya Room, ACES 2.303

In an increasingly globalized and information-driven world, the intersection between government-funded supercomputer technology and international security policy is inextricably linked. New developments in the supercomputing sector significantly influence defense budgeting, innovation in weapons design and procurement, intelligence gathering and processing, and military strategy. The impact of computer technology on security issues and foreign policy has led many scholars to proclaim that the defense sector is undergoing a “revolution in military affairs.”

A forthcoming report from the Computer Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council titled “The Future of Supercomputing” concludes that the needs of some high-end defense and government users are diverging from the "cluster" approaches to high performance computing dominant in most scientific and commercial computing applications. The widening gap between government and civilian uses for supercomputers raises important questions for U.S. national security policy, which has become increasingly dependent on advances in supercomputer technology.

How rapidly are supercomputing needs for specialized national security applications like nuclear weapons design and testing, cryptography, and aeronautics diverging from commercial and scientific applications in applied physics, biotechnology and genomics, climatological modeling, and engineering? What are the economic and national security consequences of the increasingly divergent needs of government and mainstream commercial customers for the fastest computers? Would such an increasing separation work against the technological advantages of keeping our national security computing platforms harnessed to the rapid technological innovation in commercial computing systems? Is the widespread availability of "commodity" supercomputers applicable to military use in emerging powers such as China and India likely to alter the balance of qualitative military power?

“Of Crays and Clusters: The Future of U.S. Supercomputing,” sponsored by the University of Texas Global Challenges Initiative in cooperation with the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of Computer Science, will examine the security, economic, and scientific implications of the emerging separation between government/defense and civilian supercomputer applications.


January 27, 2005 Schedule:

Bio Page


Admiral Bobby R. Inman, bio
Interim Dean and Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy, LBJ School of Public Affairs,
The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Hans Mark, bio
Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin

Donald Becker, bio
Founder and Chief Scientist, Scyld Software

Kenneth S. Flamm, bio
Dean Rusk Chair in International Affairs, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

Stephen W. Keckler, bio
Associate Professor of Computer Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Marc Snir, bio
Department Head and Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor of Computer Science,
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign